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Pharmacy supervision

Pharmacy technicians' body supports discussions on changes to supervision of pharmacies

Expanding the technician’s role in the pharmacy is pivotal to meet the increased demand for community pharmacy services and the development of the clinical responsibilities of pharmacists, says the pharmacy technicians’ association, but Pharmacists in Pharmacy opposes the move.

Pharmacy technician with customer

Source: MAG / The Pharmaceutical Journal

Pharmacy technician leaders support discussions on changes to supervision of community pharmacies. Pharmacists in Pharmacy say a pharmacist must be present in a pharmacy at all times.

The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) has said that expanding the pharmacy technician’s role in the pharmacy is “pivotal” to meet the increased demand for community pharmacy services and the development of the clinical responsibilities of pharmacists.

But APTUK accepted that any decision to delegate responsibility must be based on the results of a risk assessment.

APTUK’s statement follows demands made last week by a group of community pharmacists that called on members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Assembly to declare where they stood on the controversial supervision proposals.

Some 509 supporters of the Pharmacists in Pharmacy campaign group requested a personal meeting with each member of the Assembly before they took part in a vote to elect a new president at their meeting on Tuesday, 18 July.

The possible changes to pharmacy supervision come from the government’s Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board, which is considering allowing pharmacy technicians to supervise a pharmacy in the absence of the pharmacist as part of its current review of medicines legislation.

Technicians must refer to pharmacist

“Ensuring that pharmacy technicians do have the required level of competence is a critical part of the risk management strategy,” APTUK said in its statement.

But it adds: “Pharmacy technicians must recognise the limits of their competence and refer to a pharmacist when necessary.”

However, Pharmacists in Pharmacy opposes the move, believing that a pharmacist should be present in a pharmacy at all times, and it warned that handing over authority to a technician “deprofessonalises and depersonalises” the supply of medicines and the face-to-face advice role that a pharmacist traditionally offers.

It argues that a pharmacy without a pharmacist “is just a shop.”

The RPS issued a statement responding to the pharmacists’ letter and confirmed it has “always believed that a community pharmacy requires a pharmacist to be present” but it admitted that in England, reforms to pharmacy and budget cuts “have had a big impact.”

It said it was committed to ensuring future investment for community pharmacy and added: “We have listened to our members, and they have told us that, now more than ever, the sector should be coming together around a positive, constructive agenda that makes it clear how community pharmacy will be an integral part of the reformed NHS structures across Great Britain.”

  • On 25 July 2017, this article was amended to reflect APTUK’s position statement.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203239

Readers' comments (3)

  • I think this has been taken out of context. The APTUK statement can be found on its website here:
    The document clearly states "APTUK believes that within any proposed changes the presence of the Pharmacist remains, along with overall accountability for the clinical appropriateness of medicines for patients and this remains constant."

    It is crystal clear that "the presence of the Pharmacist remains" so I am unsure how APTUK's desire to expand technician's often under-utilised role is seen as an attack on Pharmacist supervision. This sort of article merely divides Pharmacy at a time when what we need is collaboration and cooperation.

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  • Interesting approach from APTUK, who think that a pharmacy technician can supervise a pharmacy for some of the time but recognise that the technician may need to refer to a pharmacist for some matters. Additionally, that supervision would be under delegated authority from the pharmacist. I believe this to be unreasonable, any change to legislation to allow supervision by pharmacy technicians must recognise that they would be accountable as the registered pharmacy professional in charge. Delegation would be an inappropriate relationship.

    I disagree with Pharmacists in Pharmacy that allowing pharmacy technicians to supervise "deprofessionalises and depersonalises" the pharmacy service, but it would restrict the depth and breadth of clinical service available to patients and the public, including identification of risk. Because of the unpredictable nature of the requirement for specifically a pharmacist's input in a community pharmacy under a revised supervision scenario, I believe any devised workaround would lead to a riskier service.

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  • This type of tabloid style divisive writing has no place in our professional journal. Our profession, both Pharmacists and Pharmacy technicians, are much stronger working for patients, together, than the sum of our two parts.

    As a member of both RPS and (Hon) APTUK, and a signatory of the Pharmacists in Pharmacy letter, I see no conflict in the two positions. In July 2017 APTUK issued a statement 'the presence of a pharmacist remains', the RPS state the same 'requires a pharmacist to be present' and in the Pharmacists in Pharmacy letter states 'Patients and the public know and expect to be able to speak to a pharmacist in a pharmacy'. The new RPS president has made a clear statement 'I absolutely believe that every pharmacy must have a pharmacist present'.

    Furthermore, a clear statement from APTUK reiterates "APTUK..disagree with the proposal for..reduction in funding".

    I believe patients and the public are best served by our one profession, Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians, working together. Our collective energies must be focussed on collecting evidence from effective care and positive outcomes. Integrating colleagues from all sectors remains the best way of ensuring the best possible care. If we truly seek to advance patient care and our profession, integration is where we must concentrate our efforts and it is in joint working we will find the greatest reward.

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